SOCAPA's Core Acting Camp immerses young actors in the world of cinema and stage for an enlightening, fun and creatively active summer acting experience. Many acting schools spend weeks, months, even years on theater games and exercises before they give their students actual scenes to work on. At SOCAPA, we choose to prepare students immediately for acting in films and on stage. Each week, acting students are cast in lead and supporting roles in the numerous short films that SOCAPA's filmmaking students write and direct. All of the films are screened each Friday night for the camp and are hosted online for students to share publicly or privately with their family and friends. The quick and consistent production and screening of work provides invaluable feedback for young actors who are looking to 'live more truthfully' in the moment.
Making a film is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! Students travel all over the city or campus grabbing shots and performing scenes. Some scenes may be scripted while others may be left to the actor's improvisational techniques. As the story comes to life, filmmakers and actors learn the importance of creative collaboration between filmmaker and actor - an experience that informs their work in their own craft moving forward.
Providing students with a professional experience working in their craft is a core foundation of all SOCAPA programming. We take set etiquette and professionalism seriously. Both SOCAPA filmmakers and actors are asked to be on time, remain focused to the task, follow instructions, respect locations and persons, and respect the work of their fellow artists. A SOCAPA film teaching assistant accompanies each film crew to ensure a safe and successful shoot day.
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The Core Acting course begins by introducing basic acting exercises that foster psycho-physical awareness of the basic grounds of acting involved in scene work: such as active imagination, “as if,” immediacy/partnering, presence, breath, and kinesthetic awareness, among others. Many instructors will use Meisner repetitions for this purpose, although there are many approaches that may be utilized. Physical and vocal warm-ups will be employed most mornings, incorporating fun or instructive games that vary day to day. These principles will be further explored through Improvisational Scene Studies, Given Circumstances Assignments, Text Analysis, and Table Work.
At SOCAPA we create an environment where students feel safe to explore and grow without judgment or gossip. Safe space means that any activity or work done in class stays in class. A lot of things we do in acting class may be abstract, partly because they are steps in a long, evolving process: learning to be an actor. If actors have to worry about “looking silly” or “what others will say during lunch,” they are unable to fully commit to the exercises and let their creativity reach its full potential. This is why we protect each student’s work and their own creative space by committing students to a “safe space” company agreement. Students are asked to not talk about another student’s work or process outside of the classroom.
Each week SOCAPA celebrates and screens the work created in our programs. Parents are invited to the final Friday night showcase at which the final films will be screened and the live acting scenes are performed on stage.
Every evening, Monday through Friday, we plan an activity for the students, whether it be a barbecue on campus, a dinner in the city, a cool-off swim, a theater/musical performance, or a film screening. On the Saturday afternoons that are not devoted to shooting and performing, we organize a group excursion. This could include a trip to a museum, the beach or a show in the city. Past evening and Saturday excursions have included trips to Coney Island Amusement Park, live tapings of MTV's TRL, outdoor concerts (The Roots, OCMS, TV on the Radio, etc.), Universal Studios, Pilobolus Dance Group at the Joyce, Disco Bowling, Broadway Shows such as Spring Awakening, Hair, Rent and Avenue Q, Six Flags Amusement Park, Fourth of July Fireworks, Bryant Park Film Screenings, and off-Broadway hits such as Fuerza Bruta and Stomp, to name a few.
At least once per session, SOCAPA invites a top industry professional from the New York or Hollywood film or performing arts scene to come to campus and lead a master class for all students, regardless of focus. Some past guests include Academy Award-Winning actress Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Frozen River, 21 Grams), writer/director John Hamburg (I Love You Man, Along Came Polly, Safe Men, Zoolander, Meet the Fockers, Little Fockers), actor Luis Guzman (Traffic, Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Carlito's Way, Anger Management), writer Hawk Ostby (Iron Man, Children of Men, Cowboys and Aliens), actor Brendan Sexton III (Empire Records, Welcome to the Dollhouse), the four lead characters from American Teen, filmmaker Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Raising Victor Vargas), actor Sarah Clarke (TV show 24, Thirteen) screenwriter Andrew Marlowe (Air Force One, End of Days, Hollow Man), director Morgan J. Freeman (Hurricane Streets), comedian Matt Walsh (The Daily Show, Bad Santa, Upright Citizens Brigade), and the cast of Hair and Spring Awakening on Broadway.
In a single shot of up to two minutes, students tell a simple story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The project takes its name from the first films by the 19th-century pioneers of early cinema, Pierre and August Lumière. The focus, here, is on mise-en-scène, an essential concept in the art of filmmaking. Students are challenged to carefully arrange all the elements that appear within the shot itself - camera movement, composition, blocking of actors, props, and lighting - to most effectively and creatively tell their stories.
Edwin Porter was one of the first filmmakers to consider the possibilities of editing shots together in a continuous fashion. He led the way in creating the illusion of "continuity," where material shot over the course of days or weeks looks, once it is cut together in sequence, as if it all flows together over the course of minutes. His famous film, The Great Train Robbery, is the inspiration for this second film, where students explore the same issues Porter faced, and make a 3-4 minute film that focuses on continuity. Students have four hours to shoot this film and one day to edit.
Perhaps the greatest and most innovative filmmaker that America has produced, Stanley Kubrick made one masterpiece after another over his five decade career. He set the standard for cinematic excellence in a multitude of genres, combining staging, lighting, set design, acting, and editing to create a radical new vision of what film can do. With films such as "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Dr. Strangelove," "Barry Lyndon," "Lolita," "The Shining," and "Full Metal Jacket," Kubrick proved himself again and again to be a master of his craft. For their third film, a 4-5 minute project, we challenge SOCAPA students to take everything they have learned in the previous weeks and to forge their own masterpiece. Students have a full day to shoot this film and two days to edit.
Headshots are like an actor's calling card - every actor needs a good headshot. So, at SOCAPA every two and three week acting student is scheduled a block of time in the studio to have their headshots done by students in the SOCAPA Photography Program.
As students begin the process of applying to universities and for professional roles, the importance of understanding the formalities and techniques to 'nailing' an audition cannot be understated. In the third week of the Acting program, students are assigned sides to prepare for a mock audition. The mock on-camera and interview situation is staged to replicate the stresses and challenges of auditioning professionally. A playback of the taped audition will follow with a critique and discussion, preparing students for the real deal!
Students at our Los Angeles summer campus enjoy the advantages of being in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world. Chosen as home base by the film industry because of its nonstop sunshine and beautiful scenery, Hollywood, California, has become synonymous with making movies. SOCAPA's summer camps in LA are held at Occidental College, known as the Princeton of the West.Los Angeles Campus Details
SOCAPA has two campuses in New York City. Our pre-college campus for ages 15-18 is located in the East Village of Manhattan at Astor Place where we use NYU facilities (classrooms, studios, theaters) and the New School's Residence Hall. Our shorter boot camp programs for younger high school students are hosted at Pratt University and FGSC on the Steiner Studios Film Lot in Brooklyn. Our Brooklyn Campus is temporarily closed.New York City Campus Details
SOCAPA has two summer camp locations in Vermont: one at Champlain College, situated in the picturesque city of Burlington, and the other at the Burke Mountain Hotel in East Burke, a summer haven for mountain biking and other outdoor sports.Vermont Campuses Details